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Wind Turbine Survey Outline

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Clarkson Wind Turbine Project Proposal Outline
By: Chad Southwick

The primary goal of this project is to evaluate the feasibility and long term benefits of acquiring and installing a GE 1.5MW wind turbine on the Clarkson University campus.

Clarkson has made it clear that becoming an environmentally friendly establishment is a high priority. Installing a large wind turbine would demonstrate Clarkson’s commitment to renewable energy sources in a very visible way. This project would literally put Clarkson on the map and establish the University as a leader in renewable energy innovation and research. The wind energy sector is currently growing at astronomical rates and is becoming one of the highest demanded sources of renewable energy. Experts in this sector unanimously agree that wind energy will be a vital source in the foreseeable future. Clarkson can use this as an opportunity to attract and encourage engineers to become involved in the areas of renewable energy and in particular wind energy research. This project could also be a key cornerstone in developing the Center for Sustainable Energy Systems.

The project would be a major draw for prospective engineering students. Enrollment in engineering related studies would be expected to increase in subsequent years as a result of implementing this proposal. Ideally, the turbine would be located within viewing distance from the main portion of campus. Preliminary observations indicate a possible location could be west of the CAMP access road on University property, although this location is subject to change based on further research, permitting restrictions and University approval. Prospective students touring the campus would be able to see the turbine from a number of locations, particularly from the engineering buildings. Clarkson could further launch a “green” marketing campaign that includes aerial shots of the campus with the wind turbine in the background. This marketing scheme could be integral in regenerating interest in the University by drawing students who are committed, inspired and interested in researching the development of renewable energy sources.

General Electric is the most obvious candidate to provide such a turbine. GE specializes in the mass production of 1.5MW commercial wind turbines and has sold over 10,000 of them worldwide. Furthermore, GE heavily recruits Clarkson students for their development programs, direct hire positions and internship opportunities. This new venture would strengthen the Clarkson/GE partnership.

As for the turbine itself, the electricity generated by the turbine could be used to power some of the buildings on campus. The turbine would also be used as a laboratory. Clarkson could leverage GE’s remote sensors, which are already incorporated in the controls of the turbine for data acquisition. Additionally, Clarkson could run tests for GE, reinforcing the symbiotic relationship and creating research experiments which are useful and interesting, This would give students firsthand experience with an energy source of the future.

Initialization steps include hiring a third-party company to conduct a fatal flaw analysis. This would determine the feasibility of the projects from a broad scale. An ambitious but realistic timeline for the entire project could see a completion as soon as fall of 2010.

As the energy sector continues to diversify and move away from petrol driven energy, it is crucial for Clarkson, as a leading institution in the field of engineering, to pave a path towards a greener and cleaner future. Clarkson has the potential to lead the way with a project of this magnitude and significance.